Skip The Handbook

We walked some great beaches this summer. In this post are my three most recent paintings. Kerri calls them the start of my Beach Series. This one is called, They Draw The Sunset In The Sand

I just made myself laugh out loud. “Lol!” I’d have texted to myself had I not been breathless from my guffaw. No one can accuse me of needing to be entertained.

I was writing about my history with curators, galleries and their consistent criticism of my work: I am stylistically all over the map. And, it’s a valid criticism! I am stylistically schizophrenic. I was overcome with laughter by what I wrote after using the words ‘stylistically schizophrenic:’ If I didn’t know myself (and, most of the time I am the last person to see in myself what is obvious to all – so it is a solid argument to make that I do not know myself)…. Wow. I might have made a good lawyer had I not been so dedicated to seeing things from multiple points of view. My paintings reflect my dedication (as it should be).

When I was younger I tried repeatedly to squeeze myself into a stylistic box. I thought that the advice and feedback I was receiving from gallery representatives meant that I was somehow lacking or out of control. In the handbook of real artists it must say in bold print something about possessing a consistent style. The youthful me looked all over creation for a copy of the handbook but could find it nowhere. How could I call myself an artist if I had not first read the handbook?

This one is titled, A Day At The Beach

My attempts ‘to fit’ into the single style rule made me miserable and, worse, made my work stale. In my mind, achieving real-artist-status meant I must learn to contort myself yet the price of contortion was very high. Twice in my life I took a year long hiatus because my attempt to fit into a single-style-box left me with deep aches and no creative fire. Once, so burdened was I by the pain of my contortion, I burned most of my paintings.

Fire is cleansing. Creative fire is clarifying. I have learned through my fire that the real handbook is internal and uniquely personal. As John once said to me, “Your job is to paint the paintings not to determine how or where they fit.” The painters I admire and feel a kinship with are stylistic pantheists. They are more visual explorers than technical geniuses.

There is a bridge that every artist must cross. It comes in the moment when the inner compass is no longer at odds with the necessities of learning technique, when the well-meaning comments of teachers and mentors and agents and representatives are just that: well-meaning comments. The compass, your internal rulebook, will let you know without doubt whether the comment needs to be considered or discarded. Growth happens either way.

This one is untitled at the moment…

visit to see the full extent of my stylistic pantheism.




One Response

  1. Your post made me lol. It took me back to the early 1970s when I was finishing my master’s degree in guidance and counseling. After all of the coursework and study we had a practicum class with a man (Don Dorsey’s) who was brilliant. His most prescient advise was now that we had studied the masters (Perls, Rogers, Adler, etc) now we had to figure out who we were and what our counseling style is.

    There were many times when I was in a difficult session with a kid when I would ask myself what Perls would do in this situation. Then Don’s advice would come to mind and I would just go with my gut – and it worked every time.

    I hadn’t thought about that in many years until I read your post and it brought back very fond memories of trying to figure out who I was as a counselor separate from the masters.

    We are in LA visiting the family. They are in the process of buying the townhouse they have rented for the last almost four years. It is a good move for them and has been a long time coming. Real estate values are through the roof here and it has been a hard pill to swallow for them but it is a good move. We return home on Monday.

    In three weeks (Oct 7) we take off for Miami to board a ship and sail through the Caribbean and down to Brazil to spend a week on the Amazon River and then down the coast of Brazil ending in Rio de Janeiro. It is a 22 day cruise so we return in the wee hours of Halloween morning.

    That’s the news. Let’s try to connect before we leave on our trip.

    Hugs and love,


    Sent from my iPad


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